A Talley's employee was justifiably dismissed for lifting a fellow worker high into the air on a forklift without a safety cage, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has found.

David Williams, a forklift driver for the frozen foods producer, was sacked in March last year for serious misconduct after hoisting his supervisor David Roach up about 5.5m while he was standing on a pallet on the tines while stacking racks.

Mr Roach was also sacked.

Mr Williams appealed against the company's decision, claiming the dismissal was unjustified and procedurally unfair.


He sought to be reinstated to his job, as well compensation for lost wages, humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to his feelings.

He said it was common practice for employees to be lifted up without safety equipment because it took too long to get the cage or harness from another part of the premises. He claimed to have been operating in this manner for about 2-1/2 years.

However, ERA member Christine Hickey agreed with Talley's that Mr Williams's had been fully aware of his responsibility to ensure his own safety and that of his colleagues, especially as he was a certified forklift driver.

"I consider that the breach of an important safety consideration, with knowledge that (his managers) had at least twice told Mr Williams not to operate that way and in the face of no remorse from Mr Williams was sufficient to provide a basis on which a fair and reasonable employer would, in all circumstances at the time, decide to dismiss."